During our development, finding sustainable packaging solutions has been far harder than formulating, designing or distributing. Here is a summary of some of the problems and solutions we have so far come across.
4 main types of alternative to plastic: recycled plastic, biopolymer, biodegradable plant-derived (potato / corn) material and glass.
Ironically it’s currently not sustainable in itself, to use 100% recycled plastic, there simply isn’t enough in circulation to go around.
Biopolymer and recycled plastic are also harder to mould than conventional plastic, which means they come in limited shapes and sizes. We are sure there are people working on PCR and Bio accessories, although we would expect them to be currently using eco materials for the outer or non functional parts.
The issue with potato or corn derived material is that they do not support water-based products and unfortunately the same is true of biodegradable material.
In the end we found glass to be one of the best plastic-free solutions. It can be a little more difficult to transit, and all eco options cost more than standard plastic. It is also an imperfect option given the amount of energy it takes to produce but it is fully recyclable and our main aim, was to limit the production of new virgin plastic.
We also considered a recyclable or re-filling scheme but there are many issues with a startup like ours trying to run such an operation:1. No factory can fill one unit at a time …it needs to be a run so that would require returns to be stored somewhere 2. Think housekeeping – each return would need to be sterilised before being refilled …if it was labelled then almost certainly this would be ruined and need removing 3. If it wasn’t ruined you would have to somehow change the batch code each time it was refilled and over label the previous one 4. Factories we use aren’t set up for cleaning jars so there would need to be a place where all the empty dirty pots went and were then probably mass cleaned and repacked to go to the factory for a further filling operation 5. Our products are not best suited to refilling so a sachet of the product should you wish to try it might be too solid to fill back into the main container 6. You may also have contamination issues…the sachet would be clean but would the consumer be sure that what they put it back into it would be clean enough not to spread bacteria into the new addition Unfortunately until very large corporations start ordering hefty amounts of green packaging, the demand simply won’t be there to create the supply needed to drive prices down and make sustainable wrapping much more accessible. In the mean time, we do what we can, with the best that we’ve got!